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Why The Periphery Is Crumbling: The Spoils System Is Cracking

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Why the Periphery Is Crumbling: The Spoils System Is Cracking

Instability starts on the periphery and moves into the core.

While it is clear that the instability in periphery nations is arising from dynamics unique to each nation, there is one unifying causal factor: the spoils system in each nation is breaking down.

Every nation-state, from brutal dictatorships to nominal democracies, ultimately depends on a spoils system that provides the various factions, classes, etc., with sufficient material and status benefits to accept the Status Quo arrangement.

The more a regime relies on oppression for its legitimacy (for example, North Korea or Saddam's Iraq), the greater its vulnerability to erosion in the spoils system, which naturally favor the military and the regime's Elites.

In broad brush, the spoils available for distribution are the surplus generated by the national economy. In the case of North Korea, this surplus stems from extortion (of donations from other nations), satrapy (free oil from China) and illicit activities (arms sales and counterfeiting). A common source of surplus is oil (Venezuela, Iraq, Iran) or some other desirable commodity.

The vast majority of surpluses outside oil exporting nations have been generated by three factors: cheap energy, rising productivity and the expansion of credit. If we examine periods of rapid expansion and generalized prosperity, we find these three factors were active: cheap energy, rising productivity and ample credit.

Just look at Europe and the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s, Japan in the 1960s and 70s, and China in the 1980s and 90s for examples.

Any reversal in these factors reduces surplus and the spoils being distributed. Sharply higher energy costs crimp profits and cause recessions, stagnating productivity leads to near-zero growth and institutional/state sclerosis and credit contraction leads to recession and the destruction of malinvestments.

Since ruling Elites are by definition constantly picking winners and losers, any Status Quo operated by Elites is systematically malinvesting on a gargantuan scale. This is the ontological imperative of any Elite: skim as much of the national surplus as possible and funnel it to cronies and loyal toadies. The prudent Elites (and imprudent Elites don't last long--the spoils system is quite Darwinian) set aside enough surplus to distribute as spoils, effectively buying the complicity of key sectors, classes, factions, etc.

Thus the default policy of any ruling Elite is bread and circuses: supply the potentially disruptive masses with food and entertainment, and they'll continue their grudging support of whatever arrangement is supplying the bread and circuses.

Any mob that appears threatening can be dissipated with a "whiff of grapeshot."

In the U.S., the spoils system is almost unlimited: corporate welfare for capital, food stamps and SSI disability for the lumpenproletariat, big-bucks jobs as water-carriers for the Elites for technocrats in the State, finance, think tanks, elite universities and Corporate America sectors, a variety of quasi-secure lower-level positions as enforcers, lackeys, apparatchiks and factotums and a smattering of tax subsidies (mortgage interest deduction, etc.) to placate what's left of the non-state-dependent middle class.

The spoils system is not only the foundation of every Elites' political legitimacy, it is the thin layer of plaster that covers all the longstanding ethnic, regional, linguistic, religious and political fault lines that run beneath current nation-state arrangements.

As noted in yesterday's entry Ukraine: A Deep State Analysis, numerous national borders were drawn after World War II (1945) with little regard for historical divisions between various groups or preceding borders.

Entire nations were penciled into existence by Imperial diktat in complete disregard for existing historical groups--Iraq and Syria being just two examples of many.

As long as the stick of repression and the carrot of the spoils system were sufficiently persuasive, the tectonic plates beneath the regime were masked. But once the spoils system and the machinery of suppression crack, the old rivalries arise anew.

The spoils system can crack for two reasons: either the national surplus declines so there simply isn't enough spoils left to keep everyone placated, or the spoils diversion to the Elites and their cronies exceeds the tipping point of legitimacy.

Greece and Venezuela are examples of the first dynamic, and Ukraine is an example of the second dynamic. Greece essentially funded its vast spoils distribution system with borrowed money. When the regime's free-money machine finally broke, the spoils system crashed along with the legitimacy of the Status Quo.

Venezuela is suffering a similar crash, based not on a withdrawal of credit but on the current Elites' destruction of the nation's oil industry and what was left of its productive private economy.

In Ukraine, the plundering of the national surplus by oligarchic Elites finally exceeded the populace's threshold of legitimacy, and once the armed forces and police refused to murder their cousins, brothers, nieces and nephews in the streets, the Status Quo arrangement collapsed.

Now that the spoils system has crumbled, all the historical tectonics and fault lines are emerging in full force. the same can be said of Iraq and many other inherently unstable nation-states/regimes.

Why is the periphery crumbling? It's simple: the conditions that enabled rising national surpluses and the distribution of spoils is breaking down for three reasons:

1. Energy is no longer cheap (compared to past prices)

2. The low-hanging fruit of higher productivity has all been plucked

3. The free-money flood of cheap, limitless credit is drying up

As regimes find surplus and credit are both contracting, their ability to placate every key group with spoils is also declining, and the conflicts between them can no longer be patched over with bribery or brutality.

Instability starts on the periphery and moves into the core. I have covered this in depth a number of times:

Instability Start on the Margins (October 31, 2013)

The Core-Periphery Model (June 11, 2013)

EU Leaders Throw Europe a Plutonium Life Preserver (October 27, 2011)

Everywhere, the instability from a failing spoils system is seeping from the periphery into the core: the E.U., the U.S., China and India. Two Powder Kegs Ready to Blow: China & India (January 23, 2014)

This erosion of the spoils system has a peculiar characteristic: once the old spoils system cracks and collapses, it cannot be put back together. A new arrangement arises, despite the best self-serving efforts of the current Elites.

 

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Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:47 | 4489853 walküre
walküre's picture

Nevermind Greece, Venezuela or the Ukraine.

US living standards were funded by exploitation of low hanging fruits. The spoils are gone and the US living standard collapses. Without the Dollar hegemony or the military to enforce the trade, the living standard would have never gotten as high as it did.

Surely, you didn't think it was American ingenuity or a certain deity's blessing upon this land that made America richer than any other nation?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:55 | 4489892 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

EPA regs, govt-imposed business regs, taxes, govt requirements for hiring and firing personnel ... it all ties up MANPOWER and RESOURCES. Eventually an EROI equivalent is reached here too.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:09 | 4489958 walküre
walküre's picture

The paper economy that adds absolutely zero value but increases federal and state budgets which are financed by more and more debt. Nice gig. Let's see how much longer they can afford to keep it going. Nasty sideeffect of the fake paper economy is that it lifts valuations, demands and entitlements. Good luck balancing those when the cost of running the show (energy prices) are going up with scarcity.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:36 | 4491126 UselessEater
UselessEater's picture

true, applies to most nations.... as our regulations soared (favouring big bus.) so did our entitlements in Aust they got so stupid our mining boom surplus went on value adding benefits like a $3000 baby bonus for new parents...how they come up with all this sh*t constantly surprises me and then everyone bitches about deficits while compaining they deserve more benefits because they are a special interest group of some sort, each new "benefit" needs a new govt department/office/budget...round and round we go

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:54 | 4491647 Antifaschistische
Antifaschistische's picture

"Instability starts on the periphery and moves into the core."

I don't mean to split hairs, or tangle in meaningless semantics....however, this should say

"the instability starts at the core...and gets compounded at the periphery"

I believe suggesting that that the "core" (US, Germany, China) will ultimately be infected by the disease at the periphery is backwards.   WE are the carriers in this economic pandemic, WE are the instable and WE are infecting the weak first.   

To the weak economies....we can apologize with humility knowing that we too will not defend against the infection much longer.

 

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 08:22 | 4492957 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Consequences bitches.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:54 | 4489894 john39
john39's picture

are you implying that God doesnt sanction exploiting your fellow human beings? well, bankers dont have that issue.  in fact, for their god, exploitation is virtue.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:00 | 4489915 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

I need to re-read my Talmud copy again, been awhile

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:01 | 4489925 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Go fuck yourself... Asshole...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:11 | 4489969 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Awww, Flakemanure is offended.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:46 | 4490178 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

No, I ain't offended in the least...

I just have no problem with telling trash exactly what they should do...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:57 | 4490232 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

do you have a substantive retort re: the Talmud? or just gutteral name-calling?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:26 | 4490347 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

that's what i expected, alot of nothing - or maybe too busy trying to get me banned from ZH, you seem to be the self-proclaimed expert at that...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:40 | 4490431 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Naw, you are simply a hateful little shit playing for greenies...

Then again you could surprise us...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:47 | 4490448 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

wow, more curses and put downs the last refuge of an angry, defensive, guilt-ridden fuck, you dragged me down to your level congrats 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:10 | 4490568 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

You pushed the down button on the elevator a few posts ago, I only pointed out what floor you were going to....

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:55 | 4490630 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

Still no rebuttal or debate, just ad hominem attacks... let's start with - what does the Talmud say about goyims? maybe there is no Talmud, just made up by Rense and David Irving? Or, there is a Talmud but it really doesn't say to lie to, steal, and cheat the goyim is ok? that part was made up by rabid "anti-semites" etc.  ...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:56 | 4490885 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Save your faux outrage...

If you can't handle beeing a called a piece of shit, or a cocksucker or a cunt, ZH is clearly not for you...

BTW, assuming you are Christian, reconcile the intent of your statement with the Sermon on the Mount...

Do you want a link or can you find it yourself?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:57 | 4490837 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Ahh Klinkie, are you still licking your wounds over this:

Starting here: 

and ending here:

Klinkie ran like a spooked bunny when realized what a fool he was...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:06 | 4490938 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Hahahaha.......Hahahahaha..... nope no running here.  Just get tired of debating something we disagree fundamentally on.  I don't have endless time to waste on you.  I actually have a life and fun things to do away from the computer.

Good day Flakey.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:28 | 4491077 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yeah, good day indeed...

Anytime you want your ass handed to you again in a debate let me know...

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 02:32 | 4492729 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Start upping those meds to cure your delusion there pal.

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 10:29 | 4493095 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yawn.....

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:12 | 4489971 pods
pods's picture

Who pissed in your Cheerios flak?

pods

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:01 | 4490250 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Niemoller would know exactly what I am referring to....

Anybody else here have the balls to call it out and explain it as clearly as I did here

Yeah, someone one pissed in my cornflakes, and tomorrow it may be you that gets your cornflakes pissed in...

And if the number of up/down votes on that link doesn't tell you how far this site has slipped, you haven't been watching very closely....

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:11 | 4490582 pods
pods's picture

This:

"Just remember I'll will be watching you and you had better not slip up in the least fucking way,... 

I've gotten pieces of shit like you flushed from here before..."

I'd fuckin junk ya too.  

pods

 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:28 | 4490714 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

must be the new anti-anti-zionism policy, or something like that, he pleads to

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:06 | 4490937 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

And Pods, that would be your right....

BTW, do you think JCB was being forthright? 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:33 | 4491842 Rafferty
Rafferty's picture

Jesus, Flak is one angry little hasbara today........

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 01:39 | 4492689 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Hey, was that a mouse I just heard?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:30 | 4490065 nightshiftsucks
nightshiftsucks's picture

Flaks a little bitch,cry for me flak because it brightens my day.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:41 | 4490144 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

What puss-in-boots 'walkure' says kind of says what the U.S. did in the last 100 years to keep the world free doesn't amount to a hill of beans.  I believe the sacrifices made by the U.S. to stave off the wars of evil were both brave and extraordinary.  The people of the U.S. come from everywhere; their love of freedom too, comes from everywhere.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:20 | 4490335 walküre
walküre's picture

Thomas Paine would give you the finger.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:03 | 4489931 walküre
walküre's picture

The US was the biggest benefactor of the "spoils system" the author is describing. That is my point.

Feel free to praise whatever tickles your fancy but when it comes right down to it, the "spoils system" is done and no prayers will bring it back.

Absolute hegemony and control of all aspects of the global energy supply is what created the massive wealth in the US, nothing else. Now that energy is no longer cheap, it is harder and harder to keep that market under control. It costs more and more to supply the world and the world is less and less able to afford it!

Living standards in the US are going down and down. I'm talking broad wealth and a rich middle class which lifted this country to the top of the pile.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:18 | 4490001 akak
akak's picture

 

Absolute hegemony and control of all aspects of the global energy supply is what created the massive wealth in the US, nothing else.

That is a narrow and highly biased argument.  Also untrue, as the USA acheived great growth and prosperity (for its time) by 1900 without being either an energy hegemon or indulging in a widespread spoils system as seen today.  That prosperity was the result of a much less intrusive and oppressive government, i.e., liberty and the free market.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:31 | 4490071 thamnosma
thamnosma's picture

Very much agree.  His analysis was very poor.  The country also has/had vast natural resources of every type along with a large swath of the most productive farmland on planet earth.   Most other countries have a serious deficit in one or more basic necessities but have a surplus of a product or two, e.g. oil.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:52 | 4490200 walküre
walküre's picture

USA, USA, USA

Barf

You gots Obama, a FSA and an army of crooks on Wall Street and DC.

Let's get real for fucks sake.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:54 | 4490221 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

we gots the MIC and banker cabal. Apparently that counts for a lot. I'm not proud of it. But it's reality

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:16 | 4490311 walküre
walküre's picture

The worst part is you can't get rid of it. Make no mistake, nobody likes the US. Those that pretend they do, are doing so with an ulterior motive. I stick to real Americans who feel no allegiance to the federal concept.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:41 | 4490145 walküre
walküre's picture

So did many other countries before the Fed bankers instigated two world wars to seize absolute power for the US across the globe. Ah, I'm sure the US just happened to be on the winning side 2x by coincidence and ended up as the world's leading superpower just because.

How much blood had been spilled prior to 1900 inside the continental US and after 1900 outside the US just for the purpose of securing oil supplies and supply lines?

The periphery is crumbling because ROME has gotten too fat, lazy and corrupt. This time the moneychangers are making sure the fake and diluted currency gets accepted and no alternatives are allowed.

But there are sideeffects as yields cannot be cheated no matter how much alchemy the Fed thinks they can master.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:49 | 4490191 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

The US spilled blood inside it's own borders prior to 1900 over oil?  I'm not following you there.  That was the era of steam engines and COAL.  Coal that we still have so much of you can RIGHT NOW TODAY pick it up off the ground in many places in western PA and West Virginia.  It's just that it's an environmentally illegal energy source now.  Which puts more demand on all other energy sources, including oil.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:10 | 4490284 walküre
walküre's picture

Blood for oil and blood for railroads

Late 1900s was also the time Rockefeller and Standard Oil emerged and created wealth of unfathomable proportions at that time.

Vanderbilts made a fortune in railroads.

Both families became most influential in shaping America's history going forward.

It's ok.

 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:49 | 4490461 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

You might say that the US invented global energy hegemony.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:14 | 4491125 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Nothing that has not been seen before, compare it with Dutch mastery of wind and peat, followed by the ascendancy of Britain associated with coal...

In each case, they were the the leading economic power because they were the first to exploit a new energy source...

Admittedly the US made it truly global with oil...

The lesson is that whoever masters solar is the natural heir to US. Clearly there is more to it than that, but that is the basic "rhyme"...

Oh, and China has clearly read the playbook...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:46 | 4491592 Raging Debate
Raging Debate's picture

Walkure - I agree. Rome has gotten fat and opulent by exploiting the globe including our own citizens. A book I read about the railroad era after the Civil War was called the Era of Mean.

The US has done a lot of good in this world despite the flaws and mistakes. But lately, a small cabal has destroyed Uncle Sam. The brand is dead. Only reorganization can follow and such will be a bit painful. I like Flak's broader view as well but he falls for the name calling, demonstrating he/she has room to grow. Then again, don't we all?

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 02:05 | 4492711 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:50 | 4490196 graneros
graneros's picture

"That prosperity was the result of a much less intrusive and oppressive government, i.e., liberty and the free market."

You may fly the Jolly Roger but methinks you are a far more educated and refined Captain than the skull and crossbones signify.  I would be honored to be a crewman on your ship in any open berth.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:11 | 4490287 walküre
walküre's picture

Prosperity to be free...

And a few days later the December 24, 1913 New York Times carried a front page headline that read "WILSON SIGNS THE CURRENCY BILL!" Below it, also in capital letters, were two further gems, "PROSPERITY TO BE FREE" and "WILL HELP EVERY CLASS."

http://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/federal-reserve-creation/1190

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:06 | 4490274 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

The US benefitted from unfettered access to a continents worth of resources and by WWI they were the largest extractors of oil in the World...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:17 | 4490319 akak
akak's picture

That is a very common if simplistic and blinkered 'analysis', Flak, and you know it.

Natural resources, by themselves, mean little to nothing in regards to fundamental national prosperity without also considering the cultural, ethical and legal foundations which truly support any economy. 

By your implication and 'logic', Japan should be at or near the very bottom in terms of national prosperity, and Congo should be at or near the top.

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 01:41 | 4490405 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Of course, Rule of law makes a big difference as well, that is what does the Congo in...

The Industrial Revolution being a one time event is also a big part of the fast growth then...

So how would you qualify the meteoric rise of Japan post Perry and post MacArthur? The state was clearly behind that...

And last time I looked, Japan was not looking too hot...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:13 | 4490593 _disengage_
_disengage_'s picture

Natural resources are the only thing that matters. All the labor and ingenuity in the world can't build you a log cabin if you don't have logs.

Japan works because they get resources from elsewhere. At some point elsewhere won't have resources or won't give them up for what Japan has.

MIC can just steal resources, so that distorts things.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:36 | 4490108 Professorlocknload
Professorlocknload's picture

"Now that energy is no longer cheap, it is harder and harder to keep that market under control."

Gas at 20 cents isn't cheap?

http://inflationdata.com/articles/2012/02/27/gasoline-20-cents-a-gallon/

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:27 | 4490303 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Even better of if you use gold...

In 1942, $0.20 was the equivalent of $7.60 a gallon using todays fix...

However, normalized to the minimum wage of the day, $0.30

http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm

one would get $4,80 a gallon

So Gasoline was pretty damn expensive at 2/3 of the minimum hourly wage per gallon back then....

The cheapest gas ever was in 1998 relative to all metrics and it has been in a steady climb since then...

Oh it is no surprise that OECD production peaked then...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:44 | 4490155 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

And I thought by low hanging fruit you were not referring to the united fruits company but to popular democracy;
the god that is none , according to Hans Herman Hoppe.

The West has lived off her aristocratic inheritance for
so long , prolonged by bourgeoise exuberance that only
the US "exploitation" turned into a middle class phenomena.

Reversal to the mean normal will be painful for all homogeneous societies, but those that borrowed from everyone`s culture to no avail feed my nightmares.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:49 | 4491228 UselessEater
UselessEater's picture

thats why their god gave them uselesseaters

BTW I really do hope karma is a b*tch but I suspect they've nailed that one to

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:05 | 4489943 Rukeysers Ghost
Rukeysers Ghost's picture

Spoken like a true Marxist.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:11 | 4489965 walküre
walküre's picture

Just try and look beyond your hubris for a minute of your pathetic and parasitic life.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:40 | 4490139 Rukeysers Ghost
Rukeysers Ghost's picture

Yes. Because claiming American inginuity was an aberration and military force is the real reason for our economic power is such a powerful argument. I am surprised you didn't add something derogitory about the Jews in your juvinile, occupy WS style post.

 

BTW, if the US is so devoid of intellect and inginuity, why is it that those swell guys in China go out of their way to steal all our technology?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:48 | 4490185 walküre
walküre's picture

Just stop it. Please don't "up arrow" yourself and call me "juvenile".

America won the war, seized countless patents mostly from Germany after countless scientists had already deflected or were kidnapped.

America's ingenuitiy is to be the better poker player, to win and collect all the spoils. Then rewrite history to glorify the actions of the cheats and liars.

American innovation stops at shuffling paper, bundling paper, rating paper fucking AAA and selling it to gulible investors across the world. Maybe even under duress or in exchange for protection.

War is a racket and so is America.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:30 | 4490393 Rukeysers Ghost
Rukeysers Ghost's picture

War is a racket and so is America.

 

Right. So which noble nation is getting things right in your estimation?

 

America won the war, seized countless patents mostly from Germany after countless scientists had already deflected or were kidnapped.

 

That's funny. So how did we get all of those technologies to win WWII if all the scientists were still working for their Fuhrer? I had also thought that our main technological powerhouse Apple was started by a couple of hippie kids in a garage, not some kidnapped scientist under threat of death by a jack booted US Marine.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:18 | 4490633 walküre
walküre's picture

I didn't say 330,000,000 Americans are all stupid.

Stick with Apple though. Ask yourself why Apple is producing all their hardware for pennies at Foxconn and far away in a country whose official policies are supposedly the opposite of the American capitalist system. You called me a Marxist?

Why can Apple hide their identity behind bogus offshore accounts and entities to avoid taxation in the US? I realize you're a bit of a patriot, but remember who and what it is you are promoting!

There is no black or white paradigm.

The author's "periphery" is right here in the US. There are many losers of this "spoils system" who can no longer afford to participate in the economy and it's only going to get worse.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:26 | 4491797 Rukeysers Ghost
Rukeysers Ghost's picture

Your original point had nothing to do with how our concepts and ideas are taken from paper into production. That is another matter all together and is a result of a federal govt' regulation machine that is making it impossible to build anything in this country affordably. Your point was that the US has always been an incompetent thug who only prospered by stealing ideas and intellectual property at the end of a soldiers gun. That is wholly untrue. Many of the advancements in the standard of living in the Western world were developed here in the US because we used to have one of the few free markets in the world.Obviously we do not have that climate anymore due to massive regulations, but that does not mean we didn't at one point.

 

As for Apple avoiding taxes, who can blame them. Our corporate tax structure in this country is a disaster. I also don't really give a shit if the feds get stiffed on revenue. They will only piss it away on more bailouts and welfare programs that wouldn't be necessary if they would get the hell out of the way and let the producers produce. Things are so absurd anymore that you probably couldn't develop, produce and market a Pocket Fisherman anymore because of the liability issues with the hook.

 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:30 | 4490041 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

they let you out of hell again Lou? hopefully just a one-day pass?

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 00:26 | 4492612 chindit13
chindit13's picture

Wow, way down the thread, but for… walküre

If what you say is true on a national level, then be fair and admit it is even truer on an individual level.  Any wealth and privilege you enjoy is much more a result of an accident of birth than any skill or positive character traits you might possess.  Had you been born in rural Bangladesh, perhaps female, you would have next to nothing.  Certainly you wouldn’t be expressing your opinions, via computer and the internet, on a blog.

Though not directly transferrable, it is probably fairly safe to assume that if you are not wildly successful in the society you now reside, then you were carried to a not inconsiderable extent by the society into which you were born.  You benefitted not so much because of your own traits and skills, but far more so simply because you were born lucky.

Incidentally, that “accident of birth” not only includes the “where” of your birth, but also the “what”.  Intellect, general health, physical size and appearance---are all also due to those birth accidents.  The where and what are the result of randomness, and for lack of a better term, the “unfairness” of the Universe or your particular god.

All of that is why it is simply polite to maintain humility, and if you can rise above the natural instinct of self-preservation and self-centeredness, also polite to engage in a little generosity from time to time so as to obviate a bit of the natural unfairness of existence.

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 01:44 | 4492694 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

That was positively zen compared to the shit that has passed through here the past few days...

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 11:41 | 4493338 newdoobie
newdoobie's picture

Oil bucks help as well as blessings from a deity, but the US is still the biggest Manufacturer in the world. That's where our standard of living comes from. Unfortunately, the US has a long way to go before the spoils are gone.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:47 | 4489856 maskone909
maskone909's picture

instability arguably could start at the core a la 2008.  were there telling signs in the periphery before then? i really dont know

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:48 | 4489862 khakuda
khakuda's picture

Is free money really drying up? I'm not so sure. Even if it does it may come back sooner than you think.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:13 | 4489975 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Yeah well when ALL that fake money comes flooding back onto US shores, you can be sure there will be an inpact....INFLATION!

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:17 | 4490000 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

I'd say that it's more like the free money is losing it's effectiveness. That whole "marginal productivity of debt" going negative thing.

The drying up part is its purchasing power.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:57 | 4490231 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

The whole debt thing in an otherwise furious strident argument probably does not hold; there was not much credit
in the 50`s and 60`s to go around, but plenty of hard earned profits reinvested.

Debt is slavery, now and then.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:49 | 4489863 singsing
singsing's picture

OT but can anyone comment on this Globe & Mail post: 

...fears of a market collapse were overblown, evidenced by the fact that the Fed through its "Death Star" has been sucking out far more cash from markets than QE is injecting. The term, used to describe the central bank’s reverse repo agreement, may sound a bit over the top, but it’s an apt way to describe its awesome power as a tool to deal with inflation pressures, writes Scott Barlow from ROB Insight.

Any truth to this?  How does it affect 'flow'?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:52 | 4489883 maskone909
maskone909's picture

my understanding is that it forces banks to park undesireable assetts.  in this case, bonds.  it temporarily takes it out of the system.  its only a short term strategy.  they cant do that foreeever

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:59 | 4489912 Thought Processor
Thought Processor's picture

 

 

The FED is the market (well, Central Banks anyway).  They are literally managing the balance between inflation and deflation via the manipulation of currencies.

 

Oh and it HAS been going on forever.  Likely to continue until planned reset.

 

Whenever that is.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:16 | 4489991 saints51
saints51's picture

I am not sure the "Reset" will be in our lifetime. It has lasted longer than most of us expected. We always see the cracks and think this is it. But they somehow manage to keep it going strong.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:51 | 4489872 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

 USD getting creamed and gold is getting spanked. Meanwhile the big news is that it's now public knowledge that gold is manipulated. Boy are these guys just brazenly laughing in our faces now.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:56 | 4489900 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

Or people are finally ditching paper gold.

in theory GLD could go to zero if that happens.

Premims for phyz would be $2k+ per ounce though.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:03 | 4489932 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

What are the premiums at Tulving? Any change? 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:14 | 4489983 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Tulving can suck my cock from my past experiences with him.  He's been in legal trouble in the past and it's just beginning to heat up for him again.

Hope he goes to jail this time.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:33 | 4490092 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

My old dealer, Jules Karp, didn't have anything nice to say about Tulving. But a lot of people here on ZH have used Tulving with no problems.

Anybody else here know Jules? That guy was quite a character.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:37 | 4490421 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yeah, you just feel left out because Tulving is for serious players, not penny ante plebs like you...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:23 | 4490671 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Which explains the several transactions I've had with him, upon which I base my opinions.  Like the 7, yes SEVEN weeks it took him to deliver a silver purchase.

Go fuck yourself Felchmeister.  Once again you've proven yourself to be wrong in your assessments.  Failmeister!

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:29 | 4490715 akak
akak's picture

Flakmeister is apparently unaware of recent developments in Tulving's business operations, which clearly point towards the Ponzi-esque use of newer customers' money to purchase the metals to fulfill older customers' orders, and the inevitable bankruptcy of Tulving:

http://golddealerreviews.com/reviews/gold-dealers/3-tulving

http://about.ag/tulving.htm

http://www.bbb.org/orange-county/business-reviews/gold-silver-and-platin...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:44 | 4490807 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Yep, there are some ongoing lawsuits and an investigation too.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:21 | 4491035 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Ah... I wasn't aware...

Well that is news, I must have missed the associated ZH thread. Was there one?

I have always had excellent service for both Au and Ag with them and never waited more than 2 days....

Maybe being a preferred customer makes a difference??

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 01:31 | 4505365 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Just goes to PROVE how wrong you are about some stuff Fuckmeister:

http://about.ag/tulving.htm

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:39 | 4490785 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Col. Klink is still seething about this lesson he got in basic rhetoric and debate:

Starting here: 

and ending here:

He  simply  runs  when he  realizes the intellectual bankruptcy of his position... 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:45 | 4490815 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Failure again Flakey.  Just because I don't agree with your position, now I'm running from a debate.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:39 | 4491146 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Hardly, you realized the inescapable conclusion of your own premises...

BTW. now you know why they are called libtards by real thinkers...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:48 | 4490835 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

wow you're a nasty fuck, must take alot of energy, does reading the Talmud help?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:27 | 4491065 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Now that is funny, sorry but I can't read Hebrew...

I figure a good working definition of a nasty fuck is someone who takes cheap shots at other peoples religions...

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, my little skwid mark....

BTW, can you place my avatar?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:44 | 4491176 akak
akak's picture

It is sad to see Tulving's business, and reputation, utterly going down the tubes.

Obviously, he majorly fucked up somehow.  I would be shocked if he is still in business six months from now.

 

EDIT:  What the fuck?!  I responded to Flak much higher up in this thread, and my post ends up here?!

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 01:32 | 4505371 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

He's not any longer Akak, didn't even take 6 months.  The guy's a crook.

http://about.ag/tulving.htm

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:19 | 4490010 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

-$5 in GLD doesn't even count as a drop IMO.

With everything  else going on right now, nobody knows  whats going on.

All data is being fudged, a lot like man made climate change.

.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:22 | 4490022 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

It's a big deal IMO when put in context with the dollar getting slammed today. Crude up, stawks up big, the Euro rallying etc....and gold down.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:34 | 4490096 thamnosma
thamnosma's picture

Makes sense to me.  /s

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:52 | 4489880 Golden Rule
Golden Rule's picture

Let them eat cake

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:52 | 4489881 Hooter Shaker
Hooter Shaker's picture

Batten down the hatches.  Shit's about to get real.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:02 | 4489927 Maximilien Robe...
Maximilien Robespierre's picture

Thats been the spray-paint tagline for 5 years around this dojo.  Have to give the puppeteers another congratulatory "thanks" for permitting so many more to prepare.  I'm positive that was their intent.  Right?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:06 | 4489945 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

Doom fatigue.  It's going to get a lot of people to throw in the towel, then BAM!  Shit gets real.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:09 | 4489957 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

I think it is better that way. One day.....bam....all of the locusts hit the windshield at the same time. 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:45 | 4490168 Professorlocknload
Professorlocknload's picture

Doom fatigue, indeed. When this place goes all in, I'm out.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:58 | 4491670 TheKinski
TheKinski's picture

Yes, definately all "doom-fatigued" out on my end.

That's why I've gone back to sleep.  I've done all the prepping and warning friends and family that I'm going to do.  (Although I still lurk here on ZH daily, just to get my fix.)

Wake me up when something REALLY starts to happen.

Cheers all,

TheKinski

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:57 | 4489905 barwar
barwar's picture

Bravo CHS.  Well written.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:58 | 4489908 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

One should always invest their capital and resources wisely.  There will be real consequences as Nature always "bats last".

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:00 | 4489920 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

Nature has a corked bat.

People always seem to forget that she does not give a fuck about our rules. 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:10 | 4489962 Maximilien Robe...
Maximilien Robespierre's picture

One can hope that someday, humans will look back and laugh at the centralized banking system as if it were some kind of a Greek mythology, or earth is flat type thinking that less evolved humans had back in the past. 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:13 | 4489977 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re: centralized banking system

Unfortunately not.    Centralization is how the sociopaths (the highest evolved humans) win.

The sociopaths can't skim as much in a decentralized organization.   That's why all organizations naturally get larger.   The sociopaths have lots of bullshit created for the dumbasses about why more centralization is better for "da people".

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:35 | 4490419 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Sorry, sociopaths are not the highest evolved humans.

First, they are only 'human' physically.

Second, the alpha-male/sociopath goes way back to the beginning of the development of social hierarchies - millions of years ago.

In my opinion, the most evolved are those born (not taught) capable of abstract deductive thinking. The very brightest of the Aspergers and basically the opposite of the sociopath.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:52 | 4490469 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

I think you are confusing the evolutionary advantage of intellegence vs smart-n-savvyness.

Who's kids will rule the earth (and pass along their DNA - which is what this is all about).

1)  Some intelligent Asperger guy with Libertarian OCD?

2)  Some bullshit sprewing asshole who sells snake oil?

Come on here.     It's not even close. 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:43 | 4490553 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Lack of empathy is a hallmark of most sociopaths, it is also an important facet of Austism related disorders... But it takes more than a lack of empathy to be a sociopath...

As for your expert take on Aspergers Syndrome, it doesn't even exist anymore as a clinical diagnosis and if you ever typed the above nonsense on a board frequented by mental health experts, they would piss themselves laughing...

-----

BTW, taking your statement at face value, the most advanced humans are mathematicians and physicists, so I should be flattered as I have a Ph.D. in physics....

Funnily enough, Jews seems to be disportionately represented in each field, go figger....

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:16 | 4489989 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

As long as people walk the earth there will be abundant opportunities to snicker at the fuckheads that came before them.  

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:24 | 4490357 Clowns on Acid
Clowns on Acid's picture

The Blues don't care who got 'em,

Tears don't care where they fall....

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:00 | 4489916 The_Ungrateful_Yid
The_Ungrateful_Yid's picture

Free $$ drying up? Maybe that's where it went. My neighbors just spent $10,000 on Palm Trees this morning for his yard. He doesn't even work lol.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:18 | 4490002 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  He doesn't even work lol.

The top 10% are doing very well,  especially the ones who are off-the-books.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:23 | 4490025 adr
adr's picture

Every day adds just a little more rage. Eventually the rage peak is hit for a population and then all hell breaks loose.

Perhaps that is why the USA loads up the water supply with mood altering chemicals.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:29 | 4490055 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  Perhaps that is why the USA loads up the water supply with mood altering chemicals.

Why would they bother?   Isn't sports, music, and porn enough of a distraction?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:45 | 4490175 saints51
saints51's picture

The water supply is for people like us at ZH. A lot of us do not watch sports,listen to their satanic noise or even need porn as we are on a different frequency. The fluoride is for us, not them.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:23 | 4490349 forwardho
forwardho's picture

+1 For the alternate Hz people!

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:14 | 4490294 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

"Perhaps that is why the USA loads up the water supply with mood altering chemicals."

With all that progress we should have had beer flowing out the tap at every house by 1902.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:01 | 4489924 skwid vacuous
skwid vacuous's picture

get to work Mr. Yellen the periphery is drying up...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:07 | 4489947 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

The first major G-7 country to hit the skids will the be the UK...

The tax bounty of the North Sea is gone, energy related balance of payments are exploding and if you think the US has gutted the productive part of their economy, you haven't seen anything until you examine the UK...

The Italians for all their issues can pretty much feed themselves, the Brits can't even do that...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:14 | 4489982 walküre
walküre's picture

Are the Scots splitting with the UK? Much of the North Sea oil is somehow at stake if this happens. The UK would lose a ton of leverage.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:23 | 4490026 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  Are the Scots splitting with the UK?

There's a vote coming up.

The UK sociopaths, however, have scheduled a WW1 cry fest right before the vote (the British sociopaths are second to NONE, I tell ya).   They'll bring in the Queen, some of the Royal celebrities (with the new baby), and some Royal bling and the peasants will vote to stay with the UK.

I mean, really, would you rather have your own government or the Queen?

Que:   God save the Queen,   British marching band

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:24 | 4490355 walküre
walküre's picture

I told my wife, we'd move to Scotland if they voted to get out of the Union. Love the highlands, lakes and the dramatic weather. Good place and little crowds.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:01 | 4490913 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

i wonder what it's like to be a serf under the Bank of Scotland?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:28 | 4490049 pods
pods's picture

Speaking of leverage, seems every crisis lately traces back to an office in the City of London. 

That is how they are getting by.  Leverage.  Going to hurt big time for them when it blows.

pods

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:38 | 4490126 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Latest polls say the Scots stay in the UK.

Japan imports one helluva lot of food as well as all their oil.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:03 | 4490259 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yep, but Japan actually makes stuff the rest of the world wants...

But I agree, the UK and Japan are the leaders in G-7 race to oblivion...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:08 | 4489950 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

"To the victor go the spoils."

So as the spoils of financial engineering dry up, war follows.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:10 | 4489961 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  war follows.

Yeah, and unfortunately:  "To the victor go the spoils."

Same people win.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:10 | 4489956 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

The top 20% doesn't live "on the periphery". 

Besides, that's what the Empire's legions are for.   

To carry our slow-motion eagles and flags to the periphery and spread Freedum.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:20 | 4490012 monad
monad's picture

"The system" is not collapsing. Control is being concentrated. The periphery is being reallocated and expanded. The "4rth world" will be those regions designated for depopulation. Agenda 21

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:25 | 4490033 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Oh please, do tell which regions might those be.  No man is an island, period.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:27 | 4490042 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

We'd tell ya, but then we'd have to kill ya.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:34 | 4490097 monad
monad's picture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

and Corbett Report 241 to clarify what "voluntary" and "sustainable" mean...

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:16 | 4490307 monad
Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:20 | 4490014 adr
adr's picture

What happens is that power consolidates over time until the centralized power can no longer control the domain it seized. Then everything breaks and the cycle starts over again.

If you're alive and the beginning or end of the cycle, you're fucked. You either get run over by the mob or get your head cut off by it. QE is an attempt to delay this inevitable conclusion until most of the ones who set off the final collapse are dead.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:17 | 4490313 forwardho
forwardho's picture

Most concise summary I have seen.

And yes the interesting times We live are a curse, The party is nearer the end than beginning.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:45 | 4490809 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

the end will be a new beginning ... for any survivors.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:28 | 4490047 Spungo
Spungo's picture

Article contains a lot of common myths. For starters, energy is not more expensive today. If you measure gasoline or natural gas in ounces of gold or silver, the price is fairly steady, and it gets cheaper in some cases. Another reality is that everything we use today is far more efficient. Instead of using 400W to illuminate a room, it only takes 100W. Cars can get 40mpg instead of 20mpg, and they can achieve that while doing 0-60 in 6 seconds instead of 12 seconds (old cars seriously sucked). People bitch about peak everything, and they're wrong every single time. There was a time when we used whale oil for things like lamps. I'm sure there were people talking about peak whale oil at the time. Then we worried about peak crude oil, yet we keep finding more of it, and when we run out, we'll use something else. People also worried about peak copper or peak iron. These things never run out. As the price rises, we move away from that material and find better ways of recycling that material. Eventually we'll get sick of uranium and start using thorium for nuclear power. Things like wind and solar power will improve, get cheaper, and become economically viable. We'll start using better insulation in our homes. We'll use white paint on the tops of buildings to reduce AC requirements. We'll find a way to have translucent solar panels, so the sides of buildings are covered with solar panels instead of glass.

There is no shortage of resources. There is only a shortage of capital required to obtain resources.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:38 | 4490129 nightshiftsucks
nightshiftsucks's picture

So MPG doubled,how many more cars and people are there now ?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 14:51 | 4490203 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Dood, why do you want to measure costs in something that has no value to civilization like gold or silver?  Or dollars.

Measure it in joules.  That's all that matters.  Do you really think the same number of joules are involved building a 30 story tall offshore oil platform to extract 20,000 barrels per day as existed to put up a 30 foot tall wooden tower in California in the 1920s and get that same 20,000 bpd out?

You really think the "costs" are the same per barrel?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:04 | 4490267 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

Exactly. 

 

But if you want to measure those costs in dollars anyway, the cost of extracting a barrel of oil has gone up, on average, 10.9% per year since 2000. 

 

Something that needs to be emphasized is that energy is the ability to do work, and you need to do work to add value and transport products.  Oil is not easially fungible with sources like nuclear or coal, yet it is needed for transport in our current system.  Kill transport and you kill the economy.  Supply chains break.  All of this is in the face of oil that is becoming harder and harder to extract.  It is taking more and more energy to extract, and a lot of that energy comes from oil.  What happens when we start putting larger and larger portions of our energy reserves towards extracting those reserves?

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:09 | 4490280 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

If you measure energy in terms of the amount of energy required to extract it and get it to market, it is a lot more expensive.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:08 | 4490278 I Write Code
I Write Code's picture

It would take a lot of wooden towers in California to produce 20,000 bpd, and they would have been hauled by expensive and inefficient vehicles, compared to today.  I'll buy your joules story, but if anything joules are cheaper today in other terms, and one joule buys you much better products, more transport, etc.

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:12 | 4490288 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

It does not matter.  We have expanded our infrastructure and economy to the limits of how many joules can be extracted.  Think Globalization.  Think industrial agriculture.  Think about all of the big rigs hauling all of that food and all of those globally produced goods. 

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 16:56 | 4490884 samsara
samsara's picture

It did take a lot of wood for the derricks.  Look at picture and caption on Page 5

 

ftp://ftp.consrv.ca.gov/pub/oil/history/History_of_Calif.pdf

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!